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ricardo

Ricardo's report v Boro

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On the way up to the match tonight I remarked to my son that I had had no premonitions but that I felt the first goal would be oh so important and that City must be the ones to score it. Strangely for such an important game I did not have the usual butterflies in the stomach and I was unsure whether this was a good or a bad sign, unfortunately the first ten minutes confirmed that it wasn''t a good one.City started off with purpose but were closed down very quickly and it was Boro who were the first to threaten danger. Bamford seemed to be able to spin away from his marker and beat the offside trap with remarkable regularity and City were soon on the back foot. Whittaker cleared well when the rest of the defence was at sixes and sevens and Boro soon had City pinned in their own area. Corner after corner came in and it seemed obvious that if we didn''t get a grip we would crack.In the ninth minute the umpteenth corner deflected off a defenders head and either went straight in or an unmarked Adomah at the far post tucked it in. I couldn''t be sure from my end but it was no more than Boro deserved. They could easily have had another in the next few minutes and Bassong had to hack away from almost on the line. It was a dreadful start and just what the doctor didn''t order.It took City the first quarter hour to settle and at last they began to push the ball about like we know they can. A spell of pressure on twenty minutes seemed certain to bring a goal and when Johnson headed back Whittakers cross it looked like all Howson had to do was head the ball into the net from the centre of goal five yards out. Inexplicably he managed to guide it firmly the wrong side of the post. I think that was the first time that I sensed that it wasn''t going to be our night.For the rest of the half Boro had very little attacking intent and just concentrated on keeping us out. It got a bit hectic on occasions but City just couldn''t find a clear opening. You couldn''t fault the effort nor the crowd who kept up a constant noise especially when Boro players milked every second when taking kicks and throws. Mr Madeley the ref didn''t help things by constantly allowing stoppages every time a Boro player laid down and just before the interval by booking Hoolahan for simulation when it looked like he had been felled in the box. I remarked to my son that this was all beginning to look horribly like it was going to turn out like the Wigan game despite the fact that we were playing reasonably well.Boro even played the same trick that Wigan did by leaving City to cool their heels while they dawdled before coming out for the second half. City tried valiantly to up the pace and Boro were certainly at full stretch to keep us out as ball was almost constantly in the opposition half. Whenever Boro looked like cracking however somebody seemed to find that they had an injury that needed attention and as Mr Madeley made no attempt to curb the time wasting it was no surprise that that they kept pulling the same stroke. It broke up play and destroyed our rhythm but there''s nothing you can do if the ref is weak. Having said that, Boro are a decent side and they generally defended well enough to keep us at arms length although it got a bit last ditch at times.Grabben came on for Dorrans just after the hour but it made little difference as a massed Boro defence blocked virtually everything to the extent that the keeper was barely called upon. In spit of this lack of action he managed to draw the wrath of the crowd when catching a ball and falling on the ground with nobody within ten yards. By this time I think even the most committed City supporter must have realised that it wasn''t to be and although both Hooper and Redmond came on for the last ten minutes the pattern of the game didn''t change. Jerome had a cross charged down by a defenders arm to loud cries for a penalty on eighty minutes but unless the Boro player actually picked the ball up and signed it with a felt tip pen we all knew that Mr. Madeley would wave it away.Seven minutes extra were added but it could have been seven hours for all the difference it was likely to make. There was constant pressure but never the barest inkling that anything would drop for City. Sometimes things are just not meant to be and no matter how much effort you put in you can''t change it. Tonight was one of those times.MOM for me was the crowd, they never gave up all night even though they knew that the writing was on the wall. There may be a few twists and turns yet but I''m fairly sure in my own mind that automatic promotion flew out of the window tonight. 

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Thanks for the report, Ricardo.

Not the result I wanted to read about but maybe you''ll be right and they''ll be a couple more twists and turns still to come.

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Thanks for the report Ricardo, good to hear the crowd were supportive in such a big match.  Looked the same on TV - it never looked as if we were going to break them down.   That Howson header though was the key moment.

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Excellent as ever Ricardo; many thanks.

I couldn''t understand why the ball spent so much time in the air, particularly at the start when ''boro dominated. It needed someone to get their foot on the ball & slow it down, get some control, even if it meant just pushing it around for a while. I think we were just too desperate to attack at all costs.

In fact there was far too much lumping going on. We looked far better when our usual passing game got going. Not enough creativity in the team though - Wes is still the only one capable of unpicking a team; Howson too anonymous for too much of the game & BJ didn''t look at his powerful best.

Defence was a worry too. They sliced through us at will in the first 15 - 20 mins. I''ve seen them do this before (vs Derby?) then shut up shop in similar manner.

For me, our lack of invention is our biggest problems. Quite poor teams have shown that they can come here & simply frustrate us, something that, say, Watford & Bournemouth don''t have a problem with. We can''t be that bad though - still only 2 points off top!

Now there''s a thought. Is it so impossible that the others won''t slip up?? It ain''t over just yet ...

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Accurate report that Ricardo.

I expected the Ref to read the riot act to the ''Boro captain after the third panto act. All part of the game nowadays it seems - not pretty when you''re on the receiving end. The history books won''t reflect the manner in which ''Boro actually won either; results are everything...

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[quote user="Norfolk Mustard"]Accurate report that Ricardo.

I expected the Ref to read the riot act to the ''Boro captain after the third panto act. All part of the game nowadays it seems - not pretty when you''re on the receiving end. The history books won''t reflect the manner in which ''Boro actually won either; results are everything...[/quote]Yes, I don''t blame Boro for playing on it when they found the ref wasn''t going to do anything about it. We paid the penalty for a slack start and it was always going to be an uphill task against a good defence. A great shame but we still have the lottery.

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Thanks Ricardo sums it up nicely.

For me Middlesbrough "did a job" on us and were exceptional until they got what they wanted and early goal, job done as they clearly have so much confidence in defence to hold anyone in this league...Ayala was superb.

From then though, I thought whilst we gave everything we were a bit over reliant on the longer loftier ball, which played into their hands. This is one game where I would not have taken off Wes AND Dorrans as we needed guile on the pitch to try and work them out of defence and ping that elusive clever ball through.....that never happened and they just loved all the high stuff (Note to Manager....you got it wrong this time).

As for the time wasting, I think we all acknowledge that we would have no problem with our side using this tactic and we have certainly done so....BUT....this was ridiculous and embarrassing with a couple of instances pushing wasting time to new levels, the Ref was weak, sure he added 7 minutes, but it should have been at least 10 and at least 4 of their players should have been booked....even a Red as a couple of them were multiple culprits who kept pushing it knowing the Ref was not going to do much about it.

I now actually want them in the play-off''s...as I feel we would have learnt a lot from that and would beat them over two legs........but I think the same for all the other sides around us, with the free pass to the final being a nice match up against the boys in blue.

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[quote user="ricardo"][quote user="Norfolk Mustard"]Accurate report that Ricardo.

I expected the Ref to read the riot act to the ''Boro captain after the third panto act. All part of the game nowadays it seems - not pretty when you''re on the receiving end. The history books won''t reflect the manner in which ''Boro actually won either; results are everything...[/quote]Yes, I don''t blame Boro for playing on it when they found the ref wasn''t going to do anything about it. We paid the penalty for a slack start and it was always going to be an uphill task against a good defence. A great shame but we still have the lottery.[/quote]I agree.I felt that as soon as they scored their pressing wasn''t so intense and so high up the pitch. I also feel that Bamford was probably playing the ''knock'' up to be worse than it was. Most of the times he pulled up he wasn''t going to get the ball. And when the ref kept stopping play for it then you know that is what is going to happen every ten minutes.Middlesborough''s approach did remind me a bit of Chelsea if I am honest, in that they set their stools out to not be beaten. A draw or a win was good enough for them, only a win was going to be good enough for us and I felt that we got the tactics a bit wrong in that respect. I think we tried to come out of the traps quickly and put them on the back foot but they never let us settle. I also feel our lack of pace or willing runners in behind also limited us in ways in which we could hurt them. And lastly, I felt the side was a bit lopsided. Whittaker seemed to be playing wing back the entire game with few options ahead of him. Johnson seemed to be getting wide nicely. As a result they had a number of breaks down the right hand side when Whittaker lost the ball with no one there to cover him.

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I agree. Whittaker had far too much to do on the right side.

However, while Johnson did get wide on the left, he had a poor game and offered/produced very little.

Our lack of real threat in wide areas was a big problem.

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Good report as ever Ricardo.To be fair Boro came and did a superb job on us. Yes, the play-acting was b*oody annoying but if the ref had done his job they wouldn''t have got away with so much.Despite all or possession we only managed two shots on target and that was never likely to be good enough.

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Excellent report Ricardo,

No complaints about result as they did the job needed.

The ref left a very sour taste but I dont blame the Boro Players if he was letting get away with it.

You put the smile back on my face with the comment

"loud cries for a penalty on eighty minutes but unless the Boro player actually picked the ball up and signed it with a felt tip pen we all knew that Mr. Madeley would wave it away."

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Thanks Ricardo. As ever you sum it up well.It feel like a game that we have seen several times this season. Why did we get rid of Ayala?

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